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Naomi S. Baron

Exec Dir, Ctr for Teaching, Research and Learning and Professor of Linguistics World Languages and Cultures

Professor Baron is interested in language and technology, reading, the relationship between speech and writing, the history of English, and higher education. A former Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Fellow, and Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, she has published eight books. Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World won the English-Speaking Union’s Duke of Edinburgh English Language Book Award for 2008. Her newest book, Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, appeared in 2015.

Baron taught at Brown University, Emory University, and Southwestern University before coming to AU, where she has served in the College of Arts and Sciences as associate dean for undergraduate affairs, associate dean for curriculum and faculty development, chair of the Department of Language and Foreign Studies, and director of the TESOL Program. She was named University Honors Program Professor of the Year and received an AU Presidential Research Fellowship. Since 2011, she has been executive director of the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning.

Professor Baron has appeared extensively in the media, including interviews on Good Morning America, ABC News 20/20, CNN, The Diane Rehm Show, All Things Considered, the BBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New Yorker, Fortune, and Time.

Degrees

Ph.D Linguistics, Stanford University
B.A. English and American Literature, Brandeis University

Office
Centr Teach Research Learning
Hurst - 212
Contact Info
(202) 885-2455 (Office)
(202) 885-3586 (Fax)

Send email to Naomi S. Baron

For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.
See Also
World Languages and Cultures
Center for Teaching, Research and Learning

Partnerships & Affiliations

  • Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

    Editorial Board

  • Language@Internet

    Editorial Board

  • Language Sciences

    Editorial Board

  • Visible Language

    Editorial Board

  • Writing Systems Research

    Editorial Board

  • Mobile Media & Communication

    Editorial Board

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Baron’s current research examines the impact of technology on what it means to read. She recently surveyed more than 400 university students in the US, Japan, Germany, Slovakia, and India on their practices and attitudes regarding reading in print versus on digital screens. Her next research project will be analyzing changing patterns in the amount and type of reading assigned in university courses, along with investigating how much students are “doing the reading.”

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Betty T. Bennett Faculty Scholar-Administrator Award, CAS, American University (2013)
  • Visiting Scholar, Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, (2012-2013)
  • Honored by the University of Maine at Augusta as keynote speaker launching their 2010-2011 academic theme of "Communications in the 21st Century." Baron's book Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World served as the common text for many courses and campus events during the full year (Fall 2010)
  • English-Speaking Union's Duke of Edinburgh English Language Book Award (Winter 2008) for Always On
  • Fulbright Fellow, Sweden (Fall 2007)
  • American University Presidential Research Fellow (AY 2007-2008)
  • "Professor of the Year," AU University Honors Program (2006)
  • English-Speaking Union's Duke of Edinburgh English Language Book Award competition (2000), Alphabet to Email "Highly Commended"
  • President, Zeta of Washington Chapter (American University), Phi Beta Kappa (1998-2000)   
  • President, Semiotic Society of America (1987)
  • Guggenheim Fellow (1984-1985)

Media Appearances

Selected Television & Radio Interviews
  • CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) "Sunday Edition," discussion of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World (December 2015)
  • BBC Radio 4 "Word of Mouth," discussion of Words Onscreen (September 2015)
  • NBC Today Show, on addiction to mobile phones (May 2015)
  • This Way Up (Radio New Zealand), discussion of Words Onscreen (April 2015)
  • BBC Radio 4, Digital Human Series, "Voice and Text in the Digital World" (April 2014)
  • C-SPAN Book TV, interviewed on Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World (aired March 2013)
  • Radio West (Australia), on the effects of new technologies on language (May 2012)
  • NPR "On Point," on surge in text messaging in the US (October 2010) 
  • Voice of America, on effects of new media on social isolation (September 2010)
  • Chronicle of Higher Education, "Tech Therapy," on how technology is affecting university campuses (September 2010)
  • Internet Evolution, on new media and language (July 2010)
  • Fox5, on text messaging while walking or driving (November 2009) 
  • PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer, on the social networking phenomenon Twitter (July 2009)
  • WAMU “Diane Rehm Show”, on Always On (July 2008)
  • BBC World Service News Hour, on mobile phone etiquette (October 2007)
  • CBC Radio One "The Current", on the 25th anniversary of emoticons (September 2007)
  • CBC Radio “Definitely Not the Opera”, on use of code words and shorthand in language (February 2007) 
  • Fox 5, on effect of instant messaging and text messaging on school writing (March 2007)
  • CBC Radio One (“The Current”), on the 25th anniversary of emoticons (September 2007) 
  • BBC World Service News Hour, on mobile phone etiquette (October 2007)
  • ABC News 20/20, on instant messaging use by teenagers and young adults (November 2004)  
  • WAMU “Kojo Nnamdi Show”, on the future of English as a world language (July 2003)  
  • Voice of America, on language and the internet (March 2002)  
  • ABC “Good Morning America”, on Growing Up with Language (July 1992)
Selected Print and Online Interviews

Professor Baron has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, the New Republic, USA Today, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Canadian Globe and Mail, BBC/PRI The World, the Economist, the Congressional Quarterly Researcher, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Time magazine, Newsweek, Fortune, Slate, Huffington Post, Mashable, Gizmodo, and Wired.

Work In Progress

  • A comparison of reading onscreen and in hard copy.

Selected Publications

Books
  • Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Nicholas Carr called the book "essential for educators, parents, and everyone who loves to read."
  • Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. William Safire (New York Times, May 25) called the book “My choice for the most influential and seminal language book of the year”
  • Alphabet to Email: How Written Language Evolved and Where It’s Heading. London: Routledge, 2000.
  • Growing Up with Language: How Children Learn to Talk. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1992.
  • Pigeon-Birds and Rhyming Words: The Role of Parents in Language Learning. Center for Applied Linguistics/Prentice Hall Regents, 1990.
  • Computer Languages: A Guide for the Perplexed. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1986.
  • Speech, Writing, and Sign. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1981.
  • Language Acquisition and Historical Change. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1977.
Edited Journal Issues
  • Mobile Phones in Cross-Cultural Context: Sweden, Estonia, the USA, and Japan (editor), themed section of New Media & Society 12 (1), 2010.
  • Theory and Methodology in Semiotics (editor, with Nikhil Bhattacharya), special issue of Semiotica 26 3/4, 1979.
Selected Articles and Book Chapters
Manuscripts in Progress
  • "The Dark Side of Mobile Phones" [PDF file]
  • "Talking Takes Too Long: Gender and Cultural Patterns in Mobile Telephony" (with Elise Campbell) [PDF file]

 

Professional Presentations

Selected Invited Presentations
  • Keynote Address, Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics (Washington, DC) (March 2011)
  • Invited Lecture, Montclair State University (Montclair, NJ) (April 2010)
  • Invited Lecture, Oxford Internet Institute (Oxford, UK) (November 2009)
  • Plenary Address, University of Washington, Language in the (New) Media Conference (September 2009)
  • Invited Lecture, NASA (Greenbelt, MD), Goddard’s Exploring Leadership Colloquium Series (April 2009)
  • Invited Lecture,
  • Plenary Address, Swiss Association of University Teachers of English, Biannual Conference, Zurich, Switzerland (May 2007
  • Keynote Address, College of Saint Rose (Albany, NY), President’s Day Opening Convocation (August 2007)
  • Keynote Address, Loft Literary Center (Minneapolis, MN), Conference on "Reading and Writing the Future” (April 2007)
  • Plenary Address, Universitat Jaume I (Castellon, Spain), First International Conference on Internet and Language (September 2003)
Selected Lectures with PowerPoint/PDF
  • "How Green is Your Course: The Battle of Teaching versus Trees," Eleventh International Conference, Association of Internet Researchers, Gothenburg, Sweden, October 21-23 (2010). [PDF file]
  • "Control Freaks: How Online and Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Contact,” Language in New Media: Technologies & Ideologies, September 3-6 (2009). [PDF slides]
  • “Talk about Texting: Attitudes towards Mobile Phones”, London Workshop on Writing, University of London, November 28 (2009). [PDF file]
  • "Text, Talk, or View: The Role of Control, Culture, and Cost in Using  ICTs,” International Conference on “The Role of New Technologies in Global Societies: Theoretical Reflections, Practical Concerns, and Its Implications for China,” Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, July 30-31 (2008) [PDF file]
  • Gresham's Ghost: The Future of Written Culture," Plenary Address, Swiss Association of University Teachers of English, Biannual Conference, Zurich, Switzerland, May 4 (2007). [PDF file]
  • "'Whatever': Is the Internet Destroying Language?," Oslo, Norway October 5 (2007). [PDF file]
  • "My Best Day: Presentation of Self and Social Manipulation in Facebook and Instant Messaging," Eighth International Conference, Association of Internet Researchers, Vancouver, British Columbia, October 18-20 (2007). [PDF file]
  • "Language Under the Radar: Redefining Spoken and Written Discourse", Sixth International Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers, Chicago, IL, October 6-9 (2005). [PDF slides]
  • You Are What They Post: Identity Construction on the Internet,” Fifth International Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers, University of Sussex, UK, September 19-22 (2004). [PDF slides]

Films/Documentaries

  • Children Learning Language: How Adults Can Help (with Louise Schrank), co-scripted and appeared in 24 minute video (The Learning Seed)
  • Oral Traditions: The Printed Word and Democracy, scripted and appeared in 10 minute segment on the history of writing for one-hour documentary (Library of Congress Global Literacy Project)

AU Expert

Area of Expertise: Reading in print versus onscreen; mobile phones, email, instant messaging, and text messaging; social networking; relationship between spoken and written language; history of English; general linguistics; higher education

Additional Information: Naomi S. Baron is Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning and a professor of linguistics in the Department of World Languages and Cultures in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is the author of eight books, including Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World; Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World; Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It's Heading; Growing Up with Language: How Children Learn to Talk; and Computer Languages: A Guide for the Perplexed. Always On was winner of the 2008 English-Speaking Union's Duke of Edinburgh English Language Award Competition. The late William Safire described Always On as his choice for "most influential and seminal language book of the year.” Nicholas Carr has called Words Onscreen “essential … for educators, parents, and everyone who loves to read.”

Baron’s research focuses on the effects of technology on language, social interaction, and learning. She conducted a cross-national study of mobile phone use by university students in Sweden, the US, Italy, Japan, and Korea. Most recently, she completed a cross-national analysis of print versus digital reading practices and preferences of university students in the US, Japan, Germany, Slovakia, and India. A Guggenheim Fellow and Swedish Fulbright Fellow, she was also a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Among her media appearances, Baron has been on ABC's Good Morning America and 20/20, CNN, PBS's News Hour, National Public Radio, BBC Radio, CBC Radio, and Voice of America. She has also been interviewed by such newspapers as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Economist, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe

 

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